Dandy Dozen: Best traditions

Good luck charms, bands, banners, chants and cheerleaders. Look

around a college football game and almost anything can qualify as a

tradition.

The best ones though have some combination of history,

originality and plain old coolness.

Here are the AP’s 12 best college football traditions:

1) HOWARD’S ROCK. A friend of Frank Howard’s gave the Hall of

Fame coach the big rock back in the early 1960s and the story goes

he used it as a door stop for a while before a Clemson booster club

member placed it at the top of the hill behind the east zone the

Tigers run down to enter the stadium . The first time they ran past

it before a game in 1966, they beat Virginia. The next season they

started rubbing it for luck before running down the hill and the

Tigers have been doing it ever since.

2) MIAMI’S SMOKY ENTRANCE. The smoky entrance became a part of

Miami football back in the 1950s when fire extinguishers were used

to create the cloud. The effect stuck, and when the Hurricanes

turned into the most dominant program in the college football in

the 1980s, their sprint onto the field through the smoke suited the

team perfectly. They took the field like a wrestler entering the

ring and talked just about as much trash as anyone Vince McMahon

ever employed.

3) SCRIPT OHIO. At Ohio State it’s simply called TBDBITL (The

Best Damn Band in the Land), and it has been spelling out the

script Ohio at football games since 1936. The big moment comes at

the end when a sousaphone player dots the ”i.” Honorary i-dotters

are rare and include Bob Hope, Woody Hayes and Jack Nicklaus.

4) TIGER WALK. Two hours before kickoff, the Auburn Tigers hoof

it to Jordan-Hare Stadium from Sewell Hall down Donahue Drive, with

thousands of fans lining the street to wish them luck. It started

in the early 1960s, and now similar walks are done by other

teams.

5) YELL PRACTICE. Most schools have pep rallies the night before

games. At Texas A&M, it’s yell practice. Yell Leaders are

elected and use various hand signals that coincide with the

different yells to guide the fans. Some yells praise. Some scorn.

And at the end of their Friday night session, Aggies kiss their

dates, also as practice for gameday. Every time A&M scores,

Aggies are supposed to ”mug down.”

6) USC SONG GIRLS. Not cheerleaders. Song Girls. The most famous

cheer squad in college football was started in 1967 and are as

synonymous with Southern California as Heisman Trophy-winning

tailbacks. And the Song Girls never landed the Trojans on

probation.

7) THE SOONER SCHOONER. When Oklahoma scores, matching white

ponies named Boomer and Sooner take a victory lap pulling covered

wagon dubbed the Sooner Schooner. It first appeared in 1964, became

the school’s official mascot in 1980 and it famously drew a delay

of game penalty in the 1985 Orange Bowl that helped cost the

Sooners three points in a 28-17 loss to Washington.

8) MISSISSIPPI STATE COWBELLS. Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville,

Miss., is far from the biggest stadium in the Southeastern

Conference, but at times it can be the loudest when those cowbells

start clanging. The tradition goes back to the 1940s and SEC

opponents have been trying to get the bells banned for almost as

long. The league finally implemented a rule prohibiting artificial

noisemakers from games about 10 years ago, but the only cowbell

that would get you into trouble at Wade Davis would be one still

attached to a cow.

9) GO BLUE. The Bump Elliott years were not particularly good

ones for the Wolverines, but he is credited with helping start one

very cool tradition in 1962 when he allowed the Wolverines to take

the field at the Big House running under a huge GO BLUE banner. It

measures 40-feet long by 4-feet wide and the players touch it for

luck as they pass by. Michigan’s defense clearly hasn’t been

touching the banner enough lately.

10) CAL’S TIGHTWAD HILL. Officially it’s called Charter Hill and

it lies on the east side of California Memorial Stadium. Golden

Bears fans have been watching their team play for free there since

the 1920s. In typical Berkeley fashion, visitors police themselves

and are expected keep the place tidy. There is only one rule on

tightwad hill: No red clothing. Rival Stanford wears red.

11) RAMBLING WRECK OF GEORGIA TECH. The first mention of a

Rambling Wreck was back in the 1920s. It was what members of the

school newspaper called the 1914 Ford driven by one of the deans.

In 1961, the school made it official, buying a 1930 Ford Cabriolet

Sport Coupe for $1,000 from a pilot in Atlanta who had it parked in

front of his apartment building. Packed with cheerleaders, the

shiny gold antique leads the Yellow Jackets on the field these

days.

12) THE WORLD’S LARGEST DRUM. It takes about four band members

to push around the carriage that holds Purdue’s Big Bass Drum. The

exact measurements are a secret, but it’s about 10-feet tall and

4-feet wide. It debuted in 1921 and has been refurbished several

times since.